The master of the X-Press Pearl, which has been burning off the coast of Colombo, Sri Lanka, for nearly two weeks, was arrested in the country today, along with the chief engineer and deputy chief engineer, on the orders of the Colombo Magistrate’s Court.
Local reports suggest that police have begun investigating how the vessel caught fire and the measures taken by the crew to deal with the unstable chemical cargo believed to be the cause of the fire.
Sri Lanka’s CID is understood to have taken statements from rescued crew members.
The Colombo Port Police acted on a complaint from the Sri Lanka Marine Environment Protection Authority after debris, including plastic pellets and other pollutants, washed up on Sri Lankan beaches.
According to reports, beaches from Kalpitiya to Kalutara are littered with plastic pellets that have caused fish and turtle deaths in the area.
“Metal parts and other debris from the ship have led to pollution of the sea and beaches. Fishermen were warned not to fish and people are concerned about fish consumption as a result.”
X-Press Feeders, owner of the vessel, stated that it would cooperate fully with the investigation into the fire and subsequent pollution.
Meanwhile, it is understood that the vessel’s flames have been extinguished, but that divers’ investigations into a breach in the hull have not been corroborated.